In River Raid II for the Atari 2600, the player assumes the role of an F-14 assault jet pilot on a dangerous mission to destroy an enemy bridge at the top of a heavily guarded river. The gameplay is similar to the original River Raid, with a few additions. Each mission starts on an aircraft carrier, where the player must navigate past enemy forces guarding the entrance to the river. Fuel becomes scarce once the river is reached, so it’s essential to collect fuel from refueling jets along the way. The player must then navigate up the treacherous river channel to reach and destroy the bridge. Afterward, the player must return to the aircraft carrier and land safely to complete the level and progress to the next, more challenging one.
One significant addition in River Raid II is the ability to control the altitude of the plane. The player can fly high above everything or descend low into the river channel to take out enemy tanks and barges. This adds another layer of strategy to the gameplay.